I am a vegetarian. I am not comfortable with the way humans treat animals. But despite my evangelism on this issue, a concern for animal welfare was not why I first became vegetarian.
Food for thought: Why diet is so important
I did so because I became concerned about the way I was treating myself. I realised that in addition to not being good for me, there was no dietary rationale for eating meat.
This was the beginning of my concern about diet.
At that same time, back in 2002 when I gave up meat, I also gave up alcohol and coffee. Again, this reflected my growing concern about what I was putting in my body. I had stopped smoking some years earlier.
Today, I am convinced that our diet is critical to our health, wellbeing and happiness.
My definition of diet, however, extends well beyond food and beverages. Around the time I gave up unhealthy food and significantly boosted the amount of fruit and vegetables I consumed, I read about the importance of three diets – food for the stomach, food for the mind and food for the soul.
Over the last 10 years or so, I have tried to develop a commitment to all three. I view them as crucial to my health, wellbeing and, most importantly, happiness.
I have continued to revise my diet, cutting out all junk food, soft drinks, fast food, deep-fried food and just about anything loaded with sugar, salt or fat – and where ever possible absolutely natural. This commitment had helped my body and my soul. It has also helped me feel better morally – not eating foods from businesses that are killing people to make money.
To feed the mind, I read every day, watch an online lecture every day, research and write a number of blogs each week, engage in as many debates as I can, while remaining as objective and critical as I can. I also focus on work, which is intellectually ta.
There is plenty of medical evidence to substantiate the view that mental exercise, or food for the brain and mind, helps prevent intellectual decline and age-related brain dysfunction – so common in people who have retired.
The soul is also important. Each day I make sure I listen to music. Not pop music that entertains, but music that has the depth needed to make me feel things, music that makes me think and music that moves me, perhaps to tears. I watch an inspirational movie each week and read inspirational books. I go to shows when I can – again focusing on food for the soul, rather than entertainment. I know that it is the sciences that keep us alive and the arts that we live for.
As with the body, with the mind and soul it is not just about what you take in. It is also what you do not. Just as I do not eat junk food, or drink poisonous soft drinks, i do not read The West Australian, I avoid commercial radio completely and never watch commercial TV. I have found all of these things vexatious to the spirit and unnecessary with all the great newspapers online, as well as Netflix, the ABC and SBS.
I don't do any of this because I want to live longer. I never think about the length of my life, when I might die or what might kill me. I have no faith and absolutely no fear of death. I am, however, very concerned about how I feel while I am alive.
I want to live well, healthy and happy until one day I drop dead and exist no more. I want to work until that day and extract full value from every hour between now and then.
When you are gone, you are gone and that is how it needs to be if natural selection is to continue. That said, I think we all need to make the most of the lives we have. It is not a responsibility – in my view, it just makes good sense. Diet is a big part of this and I clearly do not just mean food.
And in my experience, this works!!!
Diet is more important than most think.